Leslie Bega’s Dream Character Before She Got the Valentina Part on ‘The Sopranos’
The Sopranos writers got a lot of mileage out of Tony Soprano’s extramarital affairs (James Gandolfini). Tony’s affair with Irina (Oksana Lada) almost caused his marriage to Carmela to end (Edie Falco). Much more damaging were Tony’s relationships with Gloria Trillo (Annabella Sciorra) and Valentina La Paz (Leslie Bega).
Valentina, Bega’s character, suffered serious burns as a result of a fire that started in her kitchen. (She was preparing a snack for Tony.) Valentina’s practical joke-filled entrance to the story had brought the story a long way. But it was much more than Bega had hoped for when she went in for her Sopranos audition.
Bega had her sights set on a much more businesslike role before she imagined playing one of Tony’s mistresses. Valentina was not a job she thought she could perform at the time (or would want to). Despite this, the casting process led her straight to a “bombshell” character.
On ‘The Sopranos,’ Leslie Bega aspired to play an FBI agent.
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Though Bega was adamant about auditioning for FBI agent Deborah Ciccerone, casting directors were unconcerned. When Bega entered the frame, Tony’s new “goomar” Valentina was their top priority. Valentina was required right away by the production.
On the Talking Sopranos podcast, Bega remembered, “I said, ‘I’ll audition for Valentina if you let me audition for the FBI agent.'” Bega only had until the next morning to get her audition tape from L.A. to New York, but the casting director agreed. And it was near the end of the day in L.A.
So Bega had to hustle both auditions onto her video (i.e., VHS) tape and rush it to the FedEx drop before the cutoff for overnight shipments. She made it, and the following day she heard from the Sopranos casting director in New York. They wanted her to get on a plane that night.
“I said, ‘I need to know my odds [of getting the part],’”… This story is a short summary. Hope you enjoyed.